Thought for the Day – 21 February – The Memorial of St Peter Damian O.S.B. (1007-1072) Doctor of the Church
Born in Ravenna, Italy, in 1007, Peter Damian knew hardship as a child. He became a successful teacher professor but only for a short time. He was ordained to the priesthood and in 1035, he entered a Benedictine monastery. The monks lived in small hermitages, with two monks in each. Peter was known for his fasting, penance and long hours of prayer. In 1043, he was elected abbot. Peter began re-organising the rules of the order to return to the original spirit and purpose of the order. Men were drawn to the monastery and Peter started five other foundations.
In 1057, Peter was made cardinal and bishop of Ostia. Soon he was called upon by the Church to settle disputes, attend synods and fight abuses. He devoted much energy to helping the clergy, as well as the leaders of the empire. With his letters, biographies, sermons, stories and poems, he encouraged others to restore discipline to their lives. He wrote many letters. Some 170 are extant. We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote. He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings. The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin .Through all his diplomatic missions, Peter Damian remained a monk at heart. He served the Church as he was asked, however and as best he could. He died February 22, 1072, and in 1828, was declared a Doctor of the Church.
Peter was a reformer and if he were alive today, would no doubt encourage the renewal started by Vatican II. He would also applaud the greater emphasis on prayer, that is shown by the growing number of priests, religious and laypersons who gather regularly for prayer, as well as the special houses of prayer recently established by many religious communities.
St Peter Damian, intercede for us that we may learn to pray!